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Concert Review : An Evening With John Legend @ Wolf Trap

John Legend, who has won twelve Grammy Awards, showcased his piano skills during two sold-out shows at Wolf Trap's Filene Center in Vienna, Virginia, the first weekend of June. I had the chance to attend the Saturday, June 3rd performance.

Legend is one of those artists I like, but I have always believed he would come across better in concert. The show began promptly at 8 pm, with Legend taking the stage in a sophisticated white suit. With no backing band and only a piano to accompany, Legend kicked off his show with a one-two punch of "Save Room" and "Tonight (Best You Ever Had).

John then told the audience he wanted to take us back to where it all started and when he fell in love with music. Using a video screen showcasing childhood pictures, John reminisced about beginning in the church, which transitioned into a powerful rendition of "Take My Hand Precious Lord."

Legend then mentioned discovering secular music and performing covers of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and Ribbon in The Sky. The cover songs were an excellent setup for "Stay with You" from his debut album, which ended the show's first half. Following a brief intermission, Legend returned to the stage in a sleek black suit, kicking off the second half with R&B-esque covers of The Beach Boys' "God Only Knows" and Bruce Springsteen's "Dancing in the Dark."

Making his way back to the piano, Legend continued the story of his breaking into the industry. As Hip-Hop heads and music historians know, Legend's first professional session gig was playing piano on Lauryn Hill's "Everything Is Everything." As Legend's testimony continued, the audience learned he would soon cross paths with a backpack rapper from the Windy City named Kanye West.

That meeting was a domino effect, and John would eventually sing backgrounds on Jay-Z's "Encore" and provide the doo-wop oohs for Alicia Keys on her smash "You Don't Know My Name." Legend effortlessly tickled the ivories for these, to the crowd's delight, and even found time to throw in his parts from the bops "Selfish" by Slum Village and Estelle's "American Boy."

The story was a perfect step up for Legend to perform selections from his Grammy Winning debut, Get Lifted. As Legend sang the opening line "Holla, holla, holla" from "Used to Love U," the crowd became energized and excited, letting out screams of joy. This same enthusiasm continued throughout his performance of "Ordinary People," which many consider his signature song.

During his performance, Legend included "Wonder Woman" from his latest album, Legend, in the setlist. As a performer who never shies away from social issues, he also delivered a thought-provoking rendition of his Oscar-winning song, "Glory." The song's message hits even harder in light of the country's current state.

Legend concluded the concert with a heartfelt performance of three songs inspired by his wife "Good Morning," "All of Me," and "Wild." Due to the lack of horns or percussion, John couldn't work the club banger "Green Light" into his set. Nevertheless, with wistful storytelling, pristine vocals, and A1 skills, An Evening with John Legend was one to remember.

Final Grade: A-

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